MARCS Research Seminar

Event Name
MARCS Research Seminar
12 December 2012
12:00 pm - 01:00 pm
Bankstown Campus

Address (Room): Building 23, Conference Room 1


Professor San Duanmu, University of Michigan and Visiting Professor with the MARCS Institute will be presenting "A Comparative Study of English and Chinese Lexicons"


The prominent modern Chinese linguist ZHU Dexi once remarked that, compared with the Western tradition, Chinese dictionaries are quite unusual in two ways: First, they do not annotate parts of speech (e.g. N, V, A, etc.). Second, they do not distinguish the three-way ambiguity among morphemes, words, and phrases. In fact, an on-going debate among Chinese linguists in the past century is over one theoretical question: Is Chinese fundamentally different from Western languages, or is there a deeper level of generalizations to be found for all languages? Generative linguists can see that this is another version of the question that has engaged them in the past 50 years.

In the 2005 edition of the authoritative Modern Chinese Dictionary (Xiandai Hanyu Cidian, 5th Edition), parts of speech (POS) have been added, for the first time ever, but only to some entries. In addition, several other problems remain, such as the three-way ambiguity among morphemes, words, and phrases, and the double-listing of lexical items. In this talk, I point out some problems in the Chinese lexicon and offer some explanations. In addition, I compare the lexicons of Chinese and English, such as the size of the morpheme inventory and the distribution of POS categories, and show some striking similarities. I also note some differences and some interesting topics for further research.

Name: Sonya O'Shanna

School / Department: The MARCS Institute